Andy Polo sits in a rickety wooden chair, his piercing blue eyes darting as he speaks about his time as a slate worker. Scattered around Polo’s house are trinkets from the slate mines. An antique replica of a cable hoist hangs in his entrance way. His 87 year- old body moves as he talks animatedly about the time the Andrews sisters, three famed musicians, went “down into the hole” at the quarry site. His friend Larry, another former slate worker, sits across from him, his graying hair tucked under a baseball hat, a weathered vest worn over a worn flannel shirt. Larry is a bit more reserved than Andy, watching and clarifying Andy’s often exaggerated claims.
The two former slate workers now reside in Roseto, Pennsylvania, one of the towns located in the slate belt. Andy and Larry offer a window into the lives of quarrymen. Although they come from varying perspectives, having worked at different quarries, the two share memories of the once-booming slate industry. Andy and Larry tell stories, chatting endlessly about the industry and their own personal experiences. They remember witnessing a man climb “the rope”—the cable that held the man box used to transport the men down into the quarry. They remember the most unusual product they developed at the quarry: electrical receptacles. They even discuss more serious matters surrounding the decline in demand for slate over the past fifty years. Andy and Larry experienced the shift in demand for slate since the 1960s, and speak to the trials of industrial America and the new turn of post-industrialism in one of the few remaining towns tied to the industry.